Though some broadcasters are taking investigative journalism seriously again, the “Fright Wing” still holds America’s attention.
Question: Is the mainstream media taking the hint?
Lizz Winstead: Well yeah, sure. You know, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann, you know, 's there's a trifecta on MSNBC that is trying to get to the bottom of the story and look between the lines of the story and, you know, I did a radio show with Rachel Maddow for a year and together it was sort of like I was the color commentator and she was the person that was bringing all of these stories that were buried in independent media or that were not covered at all, and we will get experts and she would drill at home and then I would sort of provide the humor and outrage of the listener. I was learning it for the first time along with Rachel and it was really helpful. I mean, I guess and I hope that they continue to do that. My fear is that if new shows, you know, keep reading the chatter about how most people get...kids get their news from "The Daily Show" which I don't believe is true. I think young people get their news and then they go to "The Daily Show" for response because you wouldn't like "The Daily Show" if you didn't know it was going out in the news. So, it's kind of false premise. But, I hope they don't start feeling like because "The Daily Show" is a successful place for people to go and sort of have a catharsis that they become that. I hope they still become interesting, compelling and using humor certainly, voices of reason and not comedians.
Question: Does Jon Stewart have more influence than broadcast journalists?
Lizz Winstead: I would say John Stewart probably does have more influence. A) because you can count on one hand the number of actual broadcast journalists on television. Let's not...Let's not call them broadcast journalists when 80% of them are commentators. You know, how many broadcast journalists are on Fox? How many broadcast journalists who went to journalism school were investigative reporters, worked at newspapers, have Pulitzers or Peabodys for digging into a story and making it great? There is very, very few. So, if you're going to have a landscape of people commentating, John Stewart actually culls the materials and looks at things and presents it in a funny way but nonetheless, there is truth there. He is not making up news to make a joke. He is taking the reality of the news and spinning the hypocrisy in it and using humor here doing it. So yeah, that person is going to definitely be more influential I think than somebody who's just some ex-congressman who's literally wondering aloud on television, bloviating their opinions that are based on newspaper things that you've read, I've read. I mean, that's what's crazy, is that they say things- I learn nothing because I already read that. In fact, we watch new shows and they read you the paper. It's like really is this what broadcast news has come to is they read the paper and then tell you what's in the paper? And so if newspapers are crumbling, what will become of broadcast news? It's a very interesting dilemma that I think they're going to find themselves in.
Question: Why are people attentive to alarmist commentators?
Lizz Winstead: Well, like to call them the "fright wing" and, you now, when you scare people and you indulge their fears that's an easy emotion to live with. You're validated in your fear of race, your fear of terrorists, your fear of anything. It almost is like what Glenn Beck does, which I think is the most frightening thing, is that he is basically telling his viewers that they have no control and that they should be afraid and that...is this really scary false premise because if you're human being and you feel like everything is happening to you, you want someone to take care of you and that was one thing I was fascinated with the Bush administration was if you look at the history of what George Bush told America it was, "Look I'm going to take care of everything. You can stay on the couch and you can jut be against abortion and hate the gays and hate stem cell research and before this war, I'm not going to ask you to fight, and so you can have a set of values that allows you to still sit in your recliner and be judgmental. Whereas it's actually more interesting is you watch the elevation of lefty blogs and progressive pundits, they're asking you to participate. And when people start participating what they find out is they are part of the community, they want to help other people, they see that if they actually get off the couch and start reading and listening and taking a stand and getting into their neighborhoods, they can actually accomplish something in a neighborhood scale and they see how that transforms incredibly. And using the internet as a tool has been just an unbelievable boon for the proactive.
Recorded on: May 27, 2009